Northern Ireland, steeped in myth in every corner, breathtaking in its beauty and yet haunted by its troubled past. This place is a gem for those who venture to the north of the island of Ireland. The people here have a warmth and friendliness unsurpassed and are genuinely pleased and still surprised to see visitors on their shores.
There are many things to see and do but here is the best of Northern Ireland.
1. Explore the Causeway Coast. Begin at Larne and follow the coast road up to Cushendun. On the way there are villages, cliffs, long sandy beaches and a twisty coast road that offers more drama around each turn. At Cushendall you can either take the road to Bushmills cutting over the Glen or turn right towards Tor Head. this route does not suit caravans but is stunning. Carrick-a-rede rope bridge, Giants Causeway and Ballintoy are just some of the must sees on route. Take a full day for this drive and finish up in Portrush where you can wander for miles along the sands, golf on the famous Royal Portrush links course, surf, kite, horse ride or just chill.
2. Take a ferry to Rathlin Island. This is the most northerly point in Northern Ireland and the only inhabited island. Accessed via ferry from Ballycastle, the crossing is rough and waterproofs are required. The island sits where the North Channel meets the Atlantic Ocean and the 70 metre cliffs offer shelter to the colonies of Puffins, Kittywakes and Gillimots that many bird watchers come to see. The harbour is a haven of calm with accommodation, cafe and pub all to hand. Botanists, Geologists and nature lovers will love this island.
3. Walk the Mourne way. The Mountains of Mourne really do sweep down to the sea and this area of County Down is wild and beautiful. There are two forest parks with well laid out walks but if straying onto the mountains it is important to make sure you are properly dressed for the highly changeable weather and that people know when to expect your return. The mountain rescue team are called out frequently for the lost or ill prepared. Newcastle beach runs for seven miles to the foot of the Mournes and is a great holiday town and home to the Royal County Down Golf Club. Driving on through Newcastle around the shore line brings you to Carlingford Lough and again the scenery is outstanding.
4. Go west, County Tyrone, the Lakes and Fermanagh await. Again this is a beautiful area. Cruising, windsurfing, camping, cycling, walking and exploring the Marble Arch Caves will keep you busy. The waterways offer hours of relaxation. The islands in the Lough provide either a quiet retreat or a holiday heaven or you can go off the beaten track in Tyrone and explore the Sperrin Mountains where gold populates the streams. Panning for gold has once again become popular in this part of Ireland.
5. Tour the cities, see the sights. Spend a day in Belfast. take a sightseeing hop on hop off bus which will allow you to spend time where you want in the city. The Murals depicting the troubles, Belfast Castle, Titanic and Cathedral quarters are popular but make time to wander round, call into the bars, have a Guinness and get to know the locals who are always up for a chat. Derry in the north is also a must see. It is the only remaining walled city in Europe and is steeped in history and culture.
The best of Northern Ireland awaits all who venture to this stunning corner of the island of Ireland.